Nov 30, 2012

Fabric Wrapped Holiday Letters

I had a blank spot on the wall above my mantle that was super bugging me. The space seemed just right for a little holiday word.

Since I didn't have a holiday word just laying around, I figured I should probably either make one or come to terms with going crazy over the blank spot on the wall.

I have enough crazy, so I decided to make the decoration I needed.

I gathered some yarn and material that would coordinate with the rest of my decorations.

Are you shocked that it is black? It may not scream Merry Christmas, but it totally goes with all my holiday fun, including my Christmas Vintage Book Poster.

I also didn't want to spend the money on blank letters, so I grabbed some left over foam core to make my own.

I printed off my letter, J-O-Y in the font ChunkyRomanFive at 600. Then I cut them out and traced them onto foam core.  I used a exacto knife and cut the letters from the foam core.

I wrapped each letter in either strips of fabric or yarn, held in place with some hot glue.

Now my little holiday letters just had to be hung up and fulfill their destiny above my mantle.

I have intentions of showing you my mantle. I think it is rather quaint and vintagy looking, but alas I just can't get a good picture. So fingers crossed maybe soon.

Nov 29, 2012

BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger Stuffed Bread

Have I mentioned that I have four Little Men...three of which eat me out of house and home??

For the most part I have really good eaters. Even if they aren't big fans of what I make, they will try it.
They are also really patient when I try new things. Oldest has been known to quietly give me a thumbs up or a thumbs down depending on well, I think it is obvious.

Luckily he hands out thumbs up more than thumbs down.

I can almost guarantee a thumbs up if there is bacon, bread, and cheese.

I mean my kids are no dummies. They know the good stuff.

The other day I was in my trying-to-figure-out what to make for dinner. I had a fleeting thought about our family's favorite Braided BBQ Chicken Loaf.

Then I swear to you the bacon I had in the fridge called forth reminding me that it was hiding within. With that, I had a sudden flow of thoughts...

Bacon...braided loaf...cheese...hamburger....BBQ sauce...

Bacon Cheeseburger...

...and BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger Stuffed Bread was born.

Man was this yummy. I mean the kind of yummy where it disappeared and fast. The kind of yummy where sauce is all over your face. The kind of yummy that leads to silence because everyone's mouth is full of food.


We have already made this recipe again...and if I had bacon handy I am not gonna lie, I would probably be making it for dinner tonight.

This recipe is kid-friendly, husband-friendly, bacon-lover-friendly (aka me), and hunger-friendly.

BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger Stuffed Bread 
yields 2 loaves

Print Recipe

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 Tablespoon of yeast
2 Tablespoons of granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups bread flour

BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger:
6-7 pieces of bacon, cut up, cooked
1 pound hamburger
1/2-3/4 cup favorite BBQ sauce (I use Baby Ray's Original), plus a little extra
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 teaspoon hamburger seasoning (I use Grillmates)
Sesame seeds (garnish)

First make the bread.

Combine water, yeast, and sugar. Set aside for about 10 minutes until it is foamy.

Add oil, salt and 2 cups of flour. Start mixing the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at a time until dough starts to pull away from the bowl. For me this was about 3 1/2 cups, I used the other half to dust and incorporate in the dough once it was on the counter.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.

Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat. Cover with a damp cloth and set in a warm place. Let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

While the dough is rising, cook the ground hamburger. Season with the hamburger seasoning. Set aside.

Punch dough down. Divide the dough in half. 

Work on one loaf at a time. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one half into roughly an 11x17 rectangle. Transfer to a greased cookie sheet. Use a pizza cutter and cut slits about 2" apart and about 4" in toward the middle on the long sides of the rectangle.

Kind of like so.

In the middle, spread 1/4 cup of the BBQ sauce. Layer half of the hamburger. Then sprinkle with 1 cup shredded cheese. Next sprinkle half of the bacon. Then drizzle with a little bit more BBQ sauce.

To "braid" the bread, start on one end and fold it in. Then one at time bring in the strips, right to left, crossing them over each other. When you get to the other end, tuck it into the last few criss-crosses.

Repeat the whole process with the other half of dough.

Place both on the cookie sheet. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Let loves rest for 10 minutes.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until top is golden. Butter the top and then sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Slice up and serve with extra BBQ sauce for dipping.

Linking Here:

Nov 28, 2012

Christmas Vintage Book Poster

Several months ago I came across this old Christmas book in a thrift store.

I was pretty giddy about it. Mostly because I never, and I mean NEVER find anything good at thrift stores. So super jealous of those who do.

Anyhoo, I digress...

When I found this book, I was immediately mesmerized by the pictures.

And I knew about as instantly that I wanted to use one of the pages as a Christmas decoration.

The hard part was choosing which lovely page would coordinate the best with my other decorations.

Since they were all so pretty I almost couldn't make up my ever-lovin' mind.

Then I saw this page.

Mind made up.

Isn't it gorgeous and perfectly traditional?

I scanned the picture I wanted.

Then I made some size adjustments using PicMonkey.

Basically in order to make a poster sized print you want your image to be large.

Once you have resized it, just save it.

Then order it through a photo service that will print enlargements. I used the photo center at a big box type store. A 20x30 sized poster print cost me under $10.

Woot. Woot.

Then I put my poster into a poster frame that cost me around $10.

A cute vintagy Christmas decoration for about 20 bucks.

Pretty reasonable.

Pretty fast.

Pretty fantastic.

Please remember to be courteous when using images from a book.
They are images created by someone else. 
Personal use only of course.

Nov 27, 2012

Sparkleville: A Christmas Village Revamp How-To

A little Sparkle at Christmastime is always a good idea.

I love little Christmas villages. I remember when I was younger, there was this one house that we would go to as a family. This house was insane with Christmas villages and Christmas trains. Now, we didn't know the owners of the home at all. In fact, most of the people that walked through their home were unknown to them.
The house seriously opened up at Christmas time to have merry strangers partake in the wonder that was their house turned Christmas village. 

I was enamored by the different vignettes. It was like I was a friendly giant coming down from my beanstalk to welcome in the yuletide with them. I still remember my favorite scene. 

There was a little neighborhood that had a small mishap. It would seem that a group of holiday adventures decided to take up their hot air balloon even though the weather was not favorable. Alas, the hot air balloon did not make it far. As luck would have it, the hot air balloon couldn't keep its altitude and it crashed right into the top of a sweet little Victorian house.

The balloon was literally embedded in part of the roof.

My curious mind was amazed that the balloon had actually made a hole in the roof. Then logic came sneaking in and figured that perhaps the sweet Victorian house had some how broken, so the owners of the Christmas village ingeniously came up with the little story of a hot air balloon crash to hid the broken roof.

Crazy how some things stick with us.

While I still love the little villages, they don't really fit in with my holiday decorations.

That is until now. 

A light bulb went off. Spray paint. Sparkles. Spray paint AND sparkles.

Ah, yes. Perfect.

This project is so easy (minus the vacuuming up of all the loose sparkles). With spray paint in whatever color you want and sparkles to match, you too can have an Sparkleville for you own home.

You simply need:

cheap Christmas village houses
spray paint
coordinating glitter
mod podge
clear acrylic coating spray

I got my little houses for a buck at The Mart. Sweet and simple.

I chose red. 

I lucked out that the glitter I wanted was on clearance at Michael's. Miss Martha has a wonderful variety of glitter to choose from, but then again did we expect anything less from her?

In a lot of places, it is starting to get too cold to spray paint. If you have a sunny day, even if it is a little chilly, seize the day and spray...

Hahaha...I think I might need that on a t-shirt!

Put the houses in a shallow box.

Spray a very quick and light coat first.

Let it set for about 10 minutes. Go back and spray a slightly heavier coat.

Let is set again for about 10 minutes. Repeat with more coats until heavily covered and you can see only a little of the original paint.

Since you are covering them with sprinkles the coverage does not need to be 100%.

Let them dry for 24-48 hours.

Lay out newspaper and get ready to mod podge.

Starting on the roof, and working in sections, apply the Mod Podge.

Then sprinkle over a generous dose of glitter. Move and gently shake the house around so that the loose glitter covers the Mod Podge. 

I gathered the loose glitter into a pile and then picked up small mounts with my fingers to ensure coverage was complete, and to make sure I didn't waste glitter.

Your hands will be a hot mess.

Repeat with each side. Go over areas that are not covered as well.

I was able to cover six small houses with less than a whole bottle of glitter. Make sure you are aware of how much you have used, how much is on the table, and how much you have to cover.

Let the newly glittered houses set out for a day. The glitter will still be loose, so be careful.

No sneezing around the houses...learned that the hard way...

Once they have dried, take them back outside.

Evenly coat each house with a clear acrylic coating. This won't ensure that there won't be some glitter that will still come off, but it keeps most of it in place.

Now you have a perfectly splendid Sparkleville all your own.

I promise you will love how the light catches on them. They are so sparkly I want to swoon. I have half on my mantle and I have the rest in my kitchen. I kind of want more, but alas that would probably be sparkle overload.

...if there is such a thing...

Enjoy, I hope you have fun making your own sparkle Christmas village.

Linking Here:

Nov 26, 2012

Brightside Prints: Beautiful Holiday Cards

It is the most wonderful time of the year...

Time to send out Christmas cards!

This year I am super excited about our family Christmas cards for a couple of reasons.

First, we have some pretty legit family photos for the first time in over three years.

Second, the most exciting reason, is that my Christmas cards came from the very awesome shop Brightside Prints.

They have the most beautiful and unique holiday cards. Seriously they are breathtaking. I was about as giddy as giddy can be when they offered to let me choose a card I love and to put my cute family on it for our 2012 Christmas card.

I poured over their website.

Then I poured over it some more.

and suh'more...

There were oh-so-many lovely options.

I mean take a look, here are just a few of my favorites.

I may have said this before, but I had the hardest time choosing.

Ultimately I decided to go with something simple and elegant to showcase off those photos I have been blathering on about.

I love the handwriting font. I love the whimsical snowflakes.

The other thing I love, love, love about these cards is that the awesome holiday-ness (totally just made up my own word) doesn't stop with the front of the card.

They also personalize the back either with text or with MORE pictures (yes I am aware I need help with my family photo obsession).

When I couldn't decide what picture to use for the front, Brightside Prints helped a sister out by collaging up my favorite photos on the back.

The perfectly coordinating text box completed the card.

They were such a delight to work with. They completely catered to me and produced a Christmas card that I couldn't be happier with.

I actually clapped and giggled when I got and opened my stack of family Christmas cards.

They came super fast.

Now all I have to do is address them and send them out to friends and family.

I am probably going to admire them just a bit longer first.

After all this going on about the cards at Brightside Prints, you know you want to go and check out all their lovely cards for yourself.

You have plenty of time to go and drool over their cards and then order up some to send out this holiday season. You will die over the variety, and you will love how great they are to work with.

The GOOD NEWS is that Brightside Prints is giving Just Another Day in Paradise readers 10% of their order. Simply use the code "paradise" and the discount is yours my friends.

I know you will love them...'cause I sure love mine.

Happy Holidays!

Nov 22, 2012


Norman Rockwell

Today in the States it is Thanksgiving.
A day for reflection.
A time for gratitude.

Some of the things I am grateful for:
my sweet husband
my healthy and happy children
a healthy body
a healthy mind
love-filled home
Jesus Christ
extended family
a hard-working provider
getting to stay at home with my kids
peace of the scriptures
functioning cars
roof over our heads
clothes on our backs
food in our bellies
shoes on our feet
my children's friends

...just to name a few things.

I am truly grateful for everything I have, even the things I didn't ask for or 
didn't think I needed. I am thankful for it all...or at least I try to be.

May this day be filled with Thanksgiving and love. Whether you celebrate
this Thanksgiving holiday or not.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Nov 20, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Bread Pudding

Thanksgiving is uh yeah in two days. TWO.

Those of you who are hosting, or contributing to the yum-tastic gratitude feast probably have the menu made up, the food purchased, and a time line of when to make everything.

I am of course assuming that most of you are WAY more on top of things than I am.

Just in case you are so prepared that you have time to throw another dessert on your menu for Thanksgiving, I have one today for you that is uh...DELICIOUS. That is pretty much the best word to describe it.

At the beginning of the month I was contacted by a certain bread company to develop a Thanksgiving recipe for them. I was beyond thrilled at getting the chance to work with them. I spent a couple of weeks hemming and hawing about what kind of recipe I wanted to develop. I finally settled on this yummy dessert option.

Just as I had settled on my recipe last week, this certain bread company kind of had a company cataclysmic event of ginormous proportions. Wondering if my recipe was still going to be needed, I contacted the powers that be and asked if I should continue to move forward.

I was told absolutely.

So move forward I did.

That is where this recipe for Pumpkin Pie Bread Pudding comes in.

I happily whipped up my Pumpkin Pie Bread Pudding. I snapped pictures. I edited pictures. I ate several portions all in the name of quality control.

Quality control gives this recipe two thumbs WAY up.

I was excited to share it with said bread company, but a little sad because it wasn't going to be available to all of you until after Thanksgiving.

Then...dun, dun, dun...(that is my foreboding soundtrack)...

The said bread company, in light of it's current situation decided to put a halt on the campaign.

Sad news...I didn't get to write for them.

Good news...You get this recipe before Thanksgiving.

This dessert has a perfect pumpkin pie flavor but has the added benefit of a little more density.

Warm out of the oven with a dollop of whipped cream it is just marvelous. Room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream it is again, just marvelous.

This Pumpkin Pie Bread Pudding was a HUGE success in this houseful of eaters.

I think your household will like it too.

You will like it because it is easy and it will give you plenty of holiday acclaim.

All you need is 12-14 slices of white sandwich bread that has been left out part of the day.

After the bread has set out to get a little of it staleness on, tear it up into pieces.

Place the bits of bread into a large bowl.

Add the milk.

Then add the secret ingredient, some Pumpkin Pie Spice creamer.

Eggs in their beaten form will be needed.

Can't forget the good stuff. The vanilla. The brown sugar. The pumpkin. The pumpkin pie spice.

Gently stir everything together. The mixture should look like oatmeal.

Pour into either a 9x13 pan or you can split it between a two different smaller containers. I chose to use a pie pan because, well it is Pumpkin PIE Bread Pudding.

Next roll out one package of premade crust and cut it into small strips.

Sprinkle the crust strips over the top of the bread pudding.

Bake. Wait. Smell. Wait. Peek. Wait.


Dish it up.

Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of more pumpkin pie spice.

Dig in.

Lick your lips.

Clean the dish.

Go back for seconds.

Pumpkin Pie Bread Pudding
Just Another Day in Paradise

Print Recipe

12-14 slices of white bread
3 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups milk
2 cups pumpkin pie spice flavored creamer
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 roll of pre-made pie crust

heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla
pumpkin pie spice *optional*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. After letting the bread set out on the counter for several hours, tear up into small-medium pieces. Place the torn bread into a large bowl.

Add the eggs, milk, creamer, brown sugar, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla to the bowl. Gently combine all of the ingredients until it has the consistency of oatmeal.

Pour the mixture into a greased 9x13 baking dish (or split between two smaller containers).

Unroll pie crust. Cut into small rectangular strips. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the bread pudding.

Bake for 1 hour, until it is set but still slightly moves when jiggled...yes I said jiggled.

Remove from the oven and cool slightly.

While the bread pudding is cooling make the whipped cream.

In a chilled bowl add 2 cups heavy cream, 1/4 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons of vanilla. Whip the cream until stiff peaks form.

Serve up the Pumpkin Pie Bread Pudding with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice.

Happy Holidays.


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